This was an African resistance which was waged by the Nama and Herero people in present day Namibia from January 1904 – 1907.
Originally, three main ethnic groups occupied Namibia, these were :
- The Ambo
- The Herero
- The Nama.
The Ambo and the Herero consisted of Bantu group and engaged in animal husbandry and crop cultivation. The Nama were the Hottentots who were traditionally the pastoralists.
Both of them valued land for crop cultivation and animal husbandry.
The settlement of the Bantu (The Ambo and Herero) in Namibia triggered traditional conflicts between them and the Hottentots’(Nama).
This was due to the fact that both of them valued land for economic activities, The Bantu for Cultivation while the Hottentots’ for livestock keeping.
The hostility went on until the arrival of the Europeans, who also manipulated this rivalry for their benefit.
The Herero received warmly the Germans as the Herero hoped that the whites would assist them against their rivals, Nama.
Soon after their arrival in Herero land, the Germans declared a protectorate over Namibia and established their administration.
Worse enough, the Germans set up a military base at Windhoek and launched various attacks on the Nama between 1884 and 1904.
The Germans created various economic and political policies that provoked the outbreak of the resistance. For example in 1903, they inaugurated the Settler Policy that demanded Africans(Both Nama and the Herero) to move out their land and give to white settlers.
In January 1904, there w as a massive Herero revolt against the Germans. The Nama joined the war in October in the same year.
The Nama were under Hendrick Witbooi while the Herero were under Chief Samuel Maherero.
REASONS FOR THE OUTBREAK OF NAMA AND HERERO RESISTANCE
Both the Nama and Herero had political, social and economic discontent as follows:-
The German settlers alienated and occupied fertile land of the Africans and pushed them into unproductive land. This created hostility between Africans and German government something that led to the resistance .
The Nama and Herero depended much on cattle for their survival. The Germans seized their cattle in order to compel them to work in German farms and mines. This angered them very much hence Nama and Herero resistance.
Introduction to forced labor
In 1896, the Germans introduced forced labor as they demanded laborers in their economic sectors. The Nama and Herero were forced to work in railway construction, public buildings, plantation and mines. Worse enough they were paid lowly. This resulted into Nama and Herero resistance.
The outbreak of rinderpest disease
In 1903, there was outbreak of rinderpest, the epidemic that swept away many Nama and Herero cattle. The Native leaders and other spiritual leaders expounded this epidemics as a curse from the ancestors who were unhappy with the presence of the white men ion the country. Therefore, this made the Nama and Herero to wage a resistance against the Germans.
Creation of reserves
In 1903, the colonial administration created area of reserves for the Herero and Nama. That means, the Nama and Herero were forced to go and live in the reserves near the Kalahari desert. These reserves were barren and infected with tsetse flies. This as a result led to the resistance.
Payment of debts
Soon after the arrival of the Germans in Herero land, they established commercial relationship with Africans where Africans (Herero) borrowed money from the Germans. But later on, the Africans failed to pay their debts then the Germans started to force them to repay.
Worse enough, the Germans demanded from the Africans high interest, that they were unable to pay and found themselves in debt trap.
In 1903, the Colonial government introduced a Credit Ordinance which stated that all German money lenders were mandated to accumulated/ collect their debts from Africans for the duration of one year.
After that period, the debt would be invalid. With this permission, the Germans seized African cattle and land and sold them in order to regain their money. This angered Chief Maherero and his Africans something which led to the resistance.
Both the Nama and Herero were disgusted by the German administration that never paid attention to the traditional authority.
The tradition of chiefs were not consulted in policy making something which affected their leadership position. This led to Nama and Herero so as to regain their political independence.
The Nama and Herero were not happy with the new culture introduced by the Germans especially the new religion, Christianity. Therefore, Africans resisted because they wanted to maintain their culture.
EFFECTS OF NAMA AND HERERO RESISTANCE
Many people lost their lives while others got severe sufferings. This as a result led to depopulation in Namibia.
The natives in Namibia lost their land after the war. The Nama and Herero were thrown out of their fertile land and taken to reserve areas near the Kalahari Desert where many of them died.
The Nama and Herero lost all their cattle after the war. The German government deprived all their cattle.
Creation of concentration camps
The Germany government introduced the concentration camps where thousands of women and children were grouped there and many of them died of hunger.
The defeat of the Nama and Herero paved way for total colonialism in Namibia where the Germans established their colonial government.